An unexpected incident occurred Wednesday when a group of paragliders prepared for a flight near Tamworth. They were on Mount Borah, New South Wales.
Suddenly, a dirt devil formed in the hot conditions and a member of the group, an experienced paraglider, was pummeled in the air by a monster dust storm. After a few moments he regained control but continued flight. Other pilots watch on helplessly before scrambling to secure some of the launch mats. The paraglider was blown through the air for five hours before landing in Moree 180 kilometres away. The man escaped unscathed by the incident with the paraglider in good condition.
Dust devils are rotating intense updrafts of air and typically occur on hot dry days in certain atmospheric conditions. They can often be seen inland over dusty paddocks over the summer months and occasionally develop on mountain tops. Paraglider pilots are taught the risks and avoid flying in or near dust devils but in this case all was quickly and unexpected. A video was taken by his wife who was also a paraglider pilot in the group. This isn’t the first paragliding accident to occur at the popular Mount Borah launch spot. As another example, in 2014, a 25-year-old German man fell to his death after crashing into the mountainside. Paragliding is a recreational and competitive adventure sport. Despite not using an engine, paraglider flights can last many hours and cover many hundreds of kilometers.